Foxes battle to valuable draw at leaders

DAY 4 | Lancashire CCC 449 drew with Leicestershire CCC 288 & 151 for five

SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE

POINTS | Lancashire CCC 13 points, Leicestershire CCC 9 points

REACTION | Leicestershire CCC Captain Paul Horton spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae following the draw. The interview is available HERE

REPORT | Paul Horton, Hassan Azad and Neil Dexter led a rearguard action against leaders Lancashire CCC as Leicestershire CCC fought extremely hard to secure a useful draw in the Specsavers County Championship game at Aigburth.

The Division Two leaders needed to take nine wickets on the final day - and potentially knock off some runs – but Horton and Azad batted for a combined six hours to ensure the Red Rose county would be thwarted in their bid.

Leicestershire CCC’s skipper Horton (49, 151b) received sterling support from nightwatchman Callum Parkinson (15, 58b) while Azad (39, 156b) developed another key stand with Dexter (27, 109b).

The ever-impressive Azad played a trademark innings, holding firm for a lengthy period of deliveries for the third time in four red ball innings, and Mark Cosgrove and Colin Ackermann then saw the job through.

Batting at five, Dexter, like Horton and Azad, faced more than 100 balls as part of a final day effort that ultimately helped to yield nine points.

At the start of the day, the Foxes had two potential methods to gain a positive result – either accumulate the crease for the whole day, or score at a rate that would give Lancashire CCC a tricky chase in whatever time remained.

They sensibly went for the first option on the fourth and final day at the Aigburth Cricket Ground with captain Horton and Parkinson at the crease.

The original plan was to have Chris Wright, who has been nightwatchman a number of times this season, out there with Horton but Graham Onions dismissed the seamer in the final few overs of the third day.

Parkinson then took over that role which he saw through successfully - and chalked up the first boundary of the day. Of course, normally batting eight, Parkinson is no stranger to a new ball as he and his captain look to lay the foundations for a positive final day.

With just 40 minutes of play under their belt, the players left the field as the rain started to come down. The Foxes put on 16 runs since the start of the day with Horton 12no and Parkinson 9no.

Both sets of players emerged back from the pavilion after a 40-minute weather interruption, resulting in 12 lost overs on a day where they will cannot be made back up.

But only three overs were possible before the rain arrived again and everyone was scampering for cover again. The lunch interval was also brought forward by 15 minutes with the Foxes at 26 for one.

Leicestershire CCC came back out following the break, and it was confirmed that a further two overs were lost, totalling 14 that were lost.

In the 21st over, Lancashire CCC had a chance to see the back of the second wicket partnership as Parkinson outside edged a Richard Gleeson delivery but wicket-keeper and captain Dane Vilas could not gather as he deflected the ball to the ground.

Unfortunately for the Foxes, it only took three balls to see the dismissal of the former Lancashire CCC Academy man as Livingstone caught Parkinson at second slip off Gleeson.

Parkinson had done his job in an 80-minute vigil by wearing out the new ball and getting the Foxes through to the second session with only two wickets lost, and Azad, accustomed to batting as an opener or at No.3, came out to the wicket to join his captain at number four.

Horton and Azad batted calmly and although runs were not the primary aim, the 50-run partnership was brought up in 81 minutes by Horton, who deftly flicked a full toss from Gleeson to the fine-leg boundary.

The occasional boundary was making the bowlers think, and Horton had moved to 48 himself in recording the alliance landmark.

Sadly Horton was not able to make it his own half-century as he was bowled by Livingstone for 49 – a captain’s innings that put the Foxes well on their way to achieving their target,

The tea break came shortly after with Dexter having got off the mark with three runs to his name, and Azad going well with 24. The Foxes were two thirds of their way home at 93 for three, 68 runs behind their target – which if they were to see out the day, would be irrelevant.

Dexter soon got the Foxes over the three-figure mark with his first boundary of the day, and Leicestershire were closing in on eradicating the 161-run deficit that remained following the conclusion of the first innings.

The stand of Dexter and Azad came to an end just before five o’clock as the latter outside edged a Croft delivery that was caught behind by Vilas for 39.

Cosgrove emerged from the pavilion to join Dexter at the crease as the match entered the final hour of play. Dexter was trapped lbw by Onions after an excellent contribution as Leicestershire CCC were at 140 for five. The job was almost done.

The duo of Ackermann and Cosgrove saw off the rest of the fight of Lancashire CCC, the pair facing a combined 107 balls for their 11 runs. They both stood strong at the crease and their patient innings got the team over the line.

After a game clouded by rain at periods, both Lancashire CCC and Leicestershire CCC come away with a share of the spoils, the Foxes registering nine points in total.

FIGURES (1st inns) | Abbas 27-3-93-2, Wright 30-2-117-2, Klein 26.3-5-89-3, Dexter 22-6-69-1, Parkinson 11-0-51-1, Ackermann 3-0-17-0.

TEAM | Horton (capt), Azad, Dexter, Cosgrove, Ackermann, Dearden, Swindells (wk), Parkinson, Klein, Wright, Abbas.

Lancashire CCC | Jennings, Hameed, Davies, Livingstone, Croft, Lehmann, Vilas (capt & wk), Jones, Bohannon, Parry, Bailey.

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